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Graduate Placement Exams

 

 

On this page: EXAM DETAILS: | Composition | Music Education | Music Technology | Theory 
SUPPLEMENTAL READING LIST: | Composition | Music Education | Various Journals | Music Technology | Theory

 

All students beginning graduate studies in Composition, Music Education, Music Technology, Musicology, and Theory, including graduates of McGill University, are required to take placement examinations in order to determine that their academic preparation in Music is sufficient. On the basis of the results of these examinations, incoming students may be required to take certain remedial courses in Music History and Theory and, depending on their area of specialization, other undergraduate preparatory courses as well. All of these then form an additional part of their program of study.

Applicants to Music Education must submit copies of calendar course descriptions for all History courses taken elsewhere than at McGill.

Students who are notified of their acceptance into graduate studies in Music are encouraged to prepare for the placement examinations by perusing the following general descriptions of the examinations. After a decision has been made on your admissibility to the graduate program and upon your acceptance of our offer of admission, these placement examinations will be mailed to you, along with instructions as to their completion and return. A list of books useful in preparation for the examinations can be found following the descriptions.


GENERAL DESCRIPTIONS

COMPOSITION[Total duration of COMPOSITION examinations: 9 hours]

THEORY

Part 1 [2 hours]
-- analysis of a 19th-century composition with an emphasis on large-scale formal organization, motivic materials, and identification of chromatic harmonies.
-- analysis of a 20th-century post-tonal composition with an emphasis on the organization of pitch, rhythm, and texture, and their integration in the overall form.

Part 2 [3 hours]
-- the addition of three voices to a given melody, in a mid- to late-nineteenth century harmonic idiom, for a total of 14-16 measures - the opening measures will be given.
-- an exercise in three voice modal counterpoint on a cantus firmus (given: CF and opening motivic material)
-- tonal counterpoint - a short two-part keyboard invention, based on given material.

Part 3 [2 hours]
-- orchestration of a given excerpt.

MUSIC EDUCATION[Total duration of MUSIC EDUCATION examinations: 5 hours]

MUSIC EDUCATION [3 hours]
-- essay questions covering historical and contemporary music education philosophies and methodologies, string, brass, woodwind, vocal, orchestra/band techniques and choral conducting, and recent research developments.

MUSIC THEORY [2 hours]
-- analysis of a 19th-century composition with an emphasis on large-scale formal organization, motivic materials, and identification of chromatic harmonies.
-- analysis of a 20th-century post-tonal composition with an emphasis on the organization of pitch, rhythm, and texture, and their integration in the overall form.

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY[Total duration of MUSIC TECHNOLOGY examinations: 10 hours]

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY [2 hours]

Part 1 [2 hours]
-- Technological aspects (Non exhaustive list: MIDI, AES/EBU, File formats, Musical data delivery over the Internet, Software Environments for Music and Audio Production, Basics of Digital Audio, Number Systems).

Part 2 [2 hours]
-- Acoustics, Psychoacoustics, and Musical acoustics

Part 3 [2 hours]
-- Computer Science (C, C++, Algorithms, Data Structures, Real-Time Systems), Computer Science applied to Music (for instance software packages such as Common Lisp Music, Max/MSP, Matlab, Csound), Human-Computer Interaction.

Part 4 [2 hours]
-- Sound Synthesis, Audio Processing, and Basic of Digital Signal Processing.

MUSIC HISTORY [2 hours]
-- One essay question on the historical developments of contemporary music including electroacoustic music, pieces for orchestral instrument and live electronics, influence of new technologies on the compositional process.

THEORY[Total duration of THEORY examinations: 6 hours]

HISTORY [2 hours]
-- one short essay question from a list of topics to test knowledge of significant compositions, composers, historical trends, etc., from 1600 to the present.
-- identification of musical excerpts (score provided) to test knowledge of historical and stylistic trends.

THEORY [2 hours]

Part 1 [2 hours]
-- analysis of a 19th-century composition with an emphasis on large-scale formal organization, motivic materials, and identification of chromatic harmonies.
AND
-- analysis of a 20th-century post-tonal composition with an emphasis on the organization of pitch, rhythm, and texture, and their integration in the overall form.

Part 2 [2 hours]
-- an exercise in three-voice modal counterpoint on a cantus firmus (given: CF and opening motivic material).
OR
-- a fugal exposition in three-voice tonal counterpoint continuing through the first two measures of the first episode (given: fugal subject).

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SUPPLEMENTAL READING LIST

COMPOSITION

Modal Counterpoint:
Peter Schubert. Modal Counterpoint, Renaissance Style. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Tonal Counterpoint:
Peter Schubert and Christoph Neidhöfer. Baroque Counterpoint. Prentice Hall, 2006.
Music History:
Donald Grout and Claude Palisca. A History of Western Music, sixth edition. New York: Norton, 2001;
and
Claude Palisca Norton Anthology of Western Music, fourth edition. New York: Norton, 2001. (Other editions are also fine).
19th-Century Analysis:
E. Aldwell and C. Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading, chaps. 23-32
William Caplin. Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
20th-Century Analysis:
Joel Lester. Analytic Approaches to Twentieth-Century Music. New York: W.W. Norton, 1989.
Joseph N. Straus. Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000.

MUSIC EDUCATION

Abeles, H.F., Hoffer, C. R., & Klotman, R. H. (1994). Foundations of Music Education. (2nd ed.) New York: Schirmer Books.
Chosky, L., Abramson, R. M., Gillespie, A. E., & Woods, D. (1986). Teaching Music in the 20th Century.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Elliott, David. Music Matters: A New Philosophy of Music Education. Oxford University Press, 1995.
Kohut, Dan. Musical Performance ... Learning Theory and Pedagogy.
Madsen, C. & Madsen, C. (1978). Experimental Research in Music Education. Raleigh, NC: Contemporary Publishing Company.
Mark, M. (1986). Contemporary Music Education. (2nd ed.) New York: Schirmer Books.
Merrion (1989). What works: Instructional Strategies for Music Educators. Reston, VA: MENC.
Schafer, Murray. Creative Music Education.

Various Journals:
Journal of Research in Music Education, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, and Psychology of Music.

Philosophic Foundations and Developmental Sections in Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning. ed. R. Colwell. Schirmer Publications, 1992.

Method books (instrumental, vocal, and elementary).

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

Technological aspects:
Williams, D. B., & Webster, P. R. (1999). Experiencing Music Technology: Software, Data, and Hardware (2nd ed.). New York, Schirmer Books.
Pohlmann, K. C. (2010). Principles of Digital Audio (6th ed.) McGraw-Hill.
Acoustics, Psychoacoustics, and Musical Acoustics:
Roederer, J. G. (1995). The Physics and Psychophysics of Music (3rd ed.). New York, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag.
Moore, B.C.J. (2003). Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing (5th ed.). San Diego, Academic Press.
Hall, D. E. (1980). Musical Acoustics, An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Benade, A. H. (1990). Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics. Dover Publications.
Computer Science and related topics:
Brassard G. & Bratley P. (1996). Fundamentals of Algorithmics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Winkler, T. (1998) Composing Interactive Music. Techniques and Ideas Using Max. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 368 pages.
Rowe, R. (2001). Machine Musicianship. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Hardcover, 416 pages.
Sound Synthesis, Audio Processing, and Basics of Digital Signal Processing:
Roads, C. (1996). Computer Music Tutorial. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Dodge, C., & Jerse, T. A. (1997). Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition, and Performance (2nd ed.). New York, Schirmer Books.

Music History:

Chadabe, J. (1996). Electric sound: The Past and Promise of Electronic Music. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice Hall.

THEORY

16th-Century Analysis: Mark Everist, ed. Music Before 1600. Models of Musical Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.
19th-Century Analysis:
E. Aldwell and C. Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading, chaps. 23-32
William Caplin. Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
20th-Century Analysis:
Joel Lester. Analytic Approaches to Twentieth-Century Music. New York: W.W. Norton, 1989.
Joseph N. Straus. Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Modal Counterpoint:
Peter Schubert. Modal Counterpoint, Renaissance Style. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Tonal Counterpoint:
Peter Schubert and Christoph Neidhöfer. Baroque Counterpoint. Prentice Hall, 2006.
Music History:
Donald Grout and Claude Palisca. A History of Western Music, sixth edition. New York: Norton, 2001; and
Claude Palisca Norton Anthology of Western Music, fourth edition. New York: Norton, 2001. (Other editions are also fine).

Norton and Prentice Hall Music series of music history text books in specific areas.

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February 2009.